I have been a fan of Progressive Rock since the early 70’s and it is great to see that it is still active as a genre, and that a new generation of prog rockers has picked up the baton and running with it. At the forefront of this new generation is Clive Nolan. Being a reviewer I get to listen to many bands, and I am lucky that one distributor that I work with handles a good deal of Prog Rock material. Over the past year I have watched and listened to Clive Nolan.

He comes from a new breed of musician, one that seems to refuse to be pigeonholed with a single band label. He plays with Neo, Pendragon, and Arena to mention a few. He also is pursuing a very promising new career with Agnieszka Swita under the name Caamora.

Due for a March/10 launch in Europe is the fruition of two years on collaboration between them. Titled She after the H. Rider Haggard book of the same name it is a lavish rock opera. Having listened to She a couple of times I can honestly say that it rivals any other of Prog Rocks previous opus’s.

I managed to catch up with Clive and Agnieszka via phone yesterday to talk about Caamora, and lots of other things!

Clive Nolan has a sharp mind and a quick wit which I witnessed right off the bat. Taking me completely by surprise he switched roles and became the interviewer. He and Agnieszka are planning on doing some shows, accompanied solely by Piano and he wanted to know what song I would recommend to close the set? Giving it a few seconds of thought I sarcastically suggested ‘the theme from Rawhide’. Not missing a beat he replied “You have been watching the Blues Brothers too often.”

When asked about his background, specifically if he was classically trained I got the rather coy answer of “sort of”. He did indeed study music in university and has a couple of degrees to prove it. However they are more to do with composition than actually playing. In fact the instrument that he played in university was Violin.

That sounded like a far cry from the world of Prog Rock, yet the one thing that I have noticed is the high proportion of Prog Rockers that do have a classic music background. During high school it was classical music that he mostly listened to, and his introduction to Prog Rock was by sheer chance. One day when he was 16 he was looking for some different music, so he borrowed some money and headed off to his local record store. Knowing absolutely nothing about the current bands he selected an album just based on the cover art alone. It turned out to be a Genesis album, and a genesis for Clive Nolan. His fate was sealed, the world of Prog Rock called his name.

I have always loved Prog Rock, and I for one was saddened when Punk Rock hit the scene in the late 70’s and what seemed like overnight effectively wiped out so many Prog Rock bands, and those that did indeed weather the storm have never seemed to quite make it back to the prominence they once had. I asked Clive for his thoughts on the past, present and future of the genre.

“oh the punk movement was awful, but in some ways understandable.” He went on to explain that Punk became popular because it was accessible. The mega bands of the era had distanced themselves from the fans with their overproduced shows. In some ways maybe even becoming demi-gods in their own eyes. Punk offered a new direction, anyone could do it. Some cheap equipment, no skill involved and you were in business.

Clive does not see Prog Rock substantially growing or shrinking, “it is, what it is”, maybe the best quote that sums up Clive’s feeling on the subject “At best Prog Rock is a minority sport.”

We moved on to discuss Caamora and specifically the new album She. As a young man Clive had gone to the cinema to watch a double billing (he is showing his age here, when was the last time you saw a double billing at the theatre?), the second move was She, and based on the H. Rider Haggard 1887 novel. This movie had a profound effect and Clive found himself reading the book. The concept of a musical rock opera has been an idea that he kicked around for some considerable time, but it was not until Agnieszka began to get interested that the ideas started to gel.

This was a long distance collaboration, with Clive in London and Agnieszka in Poland. When asked if the ‘long distance’ aspect made it more difficult, they explained that in some ways it actually made it better. Agnieszka would come to London for 3 or 4 days every month. And because of this time constraint there was a strong urge to be productive. It also added a freshness to the project.

Although I have yet so see the DVD of She, I have seen some stills, and it is a lavish theatrical production and one that I had presumed would have taken some considerable amount of planning and organizing. I was really surprised with Agnieszka’s explanation. “We did the whole thing in 4 days. We spent 2 days in London rehearsing with the British musicians, and two days in Poland rehearsing with the Polish musicians, dancers, choreographers, choir, etc”.

Wow! That is no mean feat! She has only been performed once live, but I know both Clive and Agnieszka are keen to do it again. So if any angel promoter is reading this, give them a call!

I know that some readers love the techy stuff, so just for you, Clive’s favorite weapon on stage are Triton Extremes, and he uses three of them. In his words “They are versatile and easy to program”. However when it comes to composing he is a big fan of the no frills piano.

What is next for Clive Nolan and Agnieszka Swita? Well Clive is working on a new album with Arena, and they are also planning some shows featuring just the two of them.

I really want to thank Clive and Agnieszka for taking time to chat with me, and the very friendly folks at Metal Mind Productions for setting it all up. All of us at Blogger News wish you all the success in the future, and a very bright future it is. These are two very engaging people who are very easy to talk to. Incidently the US release date for She is mid May, and if you don’t want to wait that long you can order it from http://caamora.net

Simon Barrett

http://zzsimonb.blogspot.com

 

 

 
 

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